Sunday, April 30, 2017

We Are Now One Third Through 2017!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                 I am glad this month is over.  Continuing its unpopularity, my sister lost a childhood friend this month, and I am facing the prospect of losing one.  But we were April Fools, nonetheless.

                                We took in a William Inge double-header--"Come Back, Little Sheba, and "Picnic," with satisfying results.  My father turns 102 today.  We went to a wedding yesterday.  I continue to enjoy retirement.  Easter came, and so did "The Song Of Bernadette"-- and on her Feast Day, too.  And I discovered some new "Cold Case" episodes, and welcomed one new reader!!!!!!!!!!!

                                  So, all in all, it was not a bad April.  Seamus is fine, and I know now it is Spring, as my allergies are kicking in.

                                     Now, comes the floral fragrance of May.  The month of May. And the Fatima Centennial!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                      See you in May, dolls!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Happy Birthday, Daddy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                        Today, girls, just happens to be my father's 102nd birthday.  He spends a good deal of the day this way, though he is lucid.  But, I am telling you, he is holding out for 103, because he wants to outlive his father's sister, Aunt Bea, who died in 1985, at the age of 103.

                                          My father is actually having the time of his life, at Villa St. Martha, in Downingtown, Pennsylvania.   According to my niece, whom I had dinner with last week--and my nephew, too!!!!!!!!!!!--he is the facility's oldest resident!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                            What a day he must have had.  I feel like this right now, and I am forty years younger!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                               So, congratulations, Daddy, on another year!  Looking forward to the next, and hoping you will break Aunt Bea's record!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

"If You Come From Trash, You Return To Trash!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                      No, darlings, this is not a quote from one of my Miss Porter lectures, though I can easily understand how such a statement could be mistaken for one.  It is actually from Carl Healey, the perp in the "Cold Case" episode, "Our Boy Is Back."

                                       Carl's story is eerily similar to that of Ned Lasky, whom I wrote about awhile back, in the "Law And Order" episode, "Pledge."  Ned, to recall, was ashamed of his blue collar parents--his father was a factory worker, his mother worked in a bakery--and origins; he wanted the Upper Class Ivy League life he envisioned for himself.  But his parents could only afford a state school, the University Of Massachusetts.  When her tried to infiltrate an Amherst sorority party, he was snobbishly dismissed, and carried a lifelong grudge, with tragic consequences.

                                       Ned had brains, but no looks.  Carl had looks, but no brains.  His origins were even worse; his mother was trailer trash, there was no father, and his sister had become a prostitute.  Nice, huh????????????

                                         Carl yearned.  He was a reader, and yearned for the intellectual life.  But maybe he hadn't the money--or the skills-- to attain it.  So, he hang out in libraries, talking up intellectual girls, referencing things to make them think he knew something, even though he probably had never read any of the books discussed.

                                           When this backfired, Carl dealt with things by turning into a serial rapist.  Both Ned and Carl ruined their lives by ruining others'.    And they also settled for women whom they felt to be beneath them; in Carl's case, Bridget Young, who was one step above trailer trash.

                                               Poor Carl and Ned.  The problem was they were straight.  What they needed to be was gay.  Gay men are maligned early in life, so learn the importance and value of status, and social class distinctions.  It is hard to come up from trash, but because gay men have nothing to lose, and everything to gain, it is easier for them than for others. 

                                                Both men here were doomed both by their class origins, and their sexual orientation!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                                And both, no matter how strong their delusions, remained trash!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I Was Swept Away!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                        Girls, I have been on the fence, with this whole Elena Ferrante thing.  I am not so much caught up with who she is--hell, I don't even care if she is a man, or a monkey, just randomly pounding on a keyboard!!!!!!!!!!!--as I am with quality.  The first volume of the Neapolitan Quartet, "My Brilliant Friend," a lyrical evocation of childhood so moving and poetic, the reader felt right beside Elena and Lila, completely captivated me, so that I could not wait to get my hands on "The Story Of A New Name."  With that novel, with the girls slowly moving from childhood into maturity, some momentum, I thought, was lost, and with it, some interest.  So, I did not pick up Volume Three, until recently.

                                         Here, I am happy to report, the momentum returns.  Sexuality, career, men, social protest movements, the changing times as the Sixties evolve into the Seventies, all make for more interesting backdrops for the two friends to be placed against.  Lila remains fiercely ambivalent about who she is in relation to Elena, while Elena enters the world of marital disillusionment and childbirth, demonstrating as much of a spine with personal issues as academic.

                                           The strength and satisfaction of this novel I was not prepared for.  Like the first book, it made me want to go on to the next.  It is my hope that the quartet will end with a glorious bang, the same way it began.  Will I go on to more Ferrante?  Unless she writes more about these characters, probably not.  It doesn't matter, as she has written the closest thing to a feminized Proust--while not on that lofty a level--that I have read.

                                               And, of course, the reader, on completing Ferrante, will want a big Italian meal, with wine!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                                Mangia, darlings!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Another Bit Of Queens Magic!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                 I also discovered that, somewhere in Flushing from the mid-Fifties to the Seventies, existed another amusement center frequented by childhood baby boomers.  That was Adventurer's Inn--don't you just love the name, darlings?????????--and, it, too was a magical place.  Why is the magic always taken away.  These parks should be preserved in abandoned glory for people to photograph and discover, just like a certain icon discovered by Charlton Heston at the end of the original "Planet Of The Apes."

                                 This amusement park seemed aimed for older kids than  Fairyland.  It merged sci-fi and fantasy.  I have only the most superficial knowledge, which I am sharing; anyone else with more, feel free to comment.

                                    Yes, darlings, once upon a time there were things to do in Queens.  Now, it has become a place to avoid!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Who Knew Queens Was Once A Place Of Such Magic??????????

                                  The things one learns in the most unlikely places!!!!!!!!!  On our Lizzie Borden trip last Saturday, from a verbose and talkative guy named Gary, from, I believe, Rego Park, I learned that on what is now the Queens Center Mall once existed a magical amusement park, known as Fairyland.

                                     Its heyday was the 1950's and 1960's.  People who were children then--now those of us in their fifties and sixties--would remember it, but I had never heard of it, having grown up in Jersey, and not having even heard of Queens, or setting foot in it, during the 1964-65 New York World's Fair.  I never imagined it would become such a wasteland, by the time I lived there, from 1997 to 2012.

                                    I wish places like this still existed.  Even abandoned, it would be fun to explore, and photograph.

                                     Sure, places liked Disneyland, Disneyworld, and Six Flags Great Adventure shut down smaller ventures such as these.  They were actually more interesting, sleazy, macabre, and, ultimately, interesting, than their more commercial imitators.

                                        If only Fairyland could be brought back.  This may  be the only way to do it.
Any readers out there with memories of having been to this place, please share!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                        Let us all return to Fairyland!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Thursday, April 27, 2017

Lizzie Borden, Or Lucy Harbin??????????????? You Decide!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

"Because you can't chop your mother up, in Massachusetts!"
--"The Lizzie Borden Hoe-Down," from "New Faces of 1952."

One was real, the other fictional, and immortalized by Joan Crawford!!!!!!!  But both were crazy bitches, and you know how much I love them!!!!!!!!!!

Last Saturday, David and I took an L and M Bus Tour to the Lizzie Borden House.  Its official address is 230 Second Street, Fall River, Massachusetts.  What struck me as odd was, as I stood in front of the house, I spotted the number 92 on the center of the front door.  Which was fascinating, as the murders happened on August 4th, 1892.

Before Lizzie is examined, let me make clear that the sophistication level of those on an L am M Bus Tour is impossible to under, or over, estimate.  Each trip brings its own crew of motley characters.  Ours on this trip were fascinating to me, as I learned some tidbits, which I will share with you, in future posts.

The other discovery was, do prostitutes only hang out at New Jersey truck stops??????????
 I recorded on here about seeing a real, live one, at the Joyce Kilmer Service Plaza, which was near my home town of  Highland Park.  It was so  exciting!   I can't wait to get dolled up as Lilly Rush, and go out on the beat, and meet with the working girls, to solve cold cases. Those girls know the score, hons!!!!!!!!!

I was avidly looking forward to scoping out the truck stops in Connecticut, which, ironically, is where Miss Porter's School is located.  That state must have some Madonna-whore thing going!!!!!!!!!!!!

Not a single prostitute turned up at any of the Connecticut truck stops.  Oh, I saw plenty of trucks with their back lights on, even in day, a sure sign of "action wanted."  But I wanted to tell these guys to drive to the Joyce Kilmer Service Plaza, in Jersey, because, I am telling you, it looked like nothing was happening when we stopped in Connecticut, and these guys certainly were not going to score!!!!!!!!!   Had I warned them, they might have snapped me up, and I don't give it all away!!!!!!!!!!  My standards are high, just like Baby Gojira's!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

But back to Lizzie.  I am in the camp that says she did it.  Though how she had the strength to wield an ax, and plunge it into the bodies of her parents is unfathomable to me.  Unless she was fueled, as I believe, by an ungovernable rage.

Let's get a few things out of the way.  Lizzie hated her father, and stepmother.  Her own mother died, when she was two, and the murders were committed thirty years later.  Yes, Lizzie was over 30, and a spinster.  Not a great thing to be.  But, despite how pics sometimes portray her, she was no repressed thing.  She had the Grand Tour, (of Europe) after high school, so her world view was broader than I imagined.  Lizzie knew her class distinctions, too; she hated living in the Fall River version of Goat Alley, wanting to move to the fancier neighborhood.  Which her father could afford.  But he was the progeny of a parent who financially ruined his family. so Mr. Borden went the other extreme--by being miserly.  This was bad enough, for Lizzie, but things got worse when the father started favoring the stepmother's family, doling out money to them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It was said Lizzie was having a lesbian affair with the Irish maid, Bridget Sullivan.  This was discovered by either one of the parents, and fueled Lizzie further.  The maid was also suspected.  So, too, was an uncle of Lizzie's, John Morse, who had been staying at the Bordens, but was said not to be seen on the premises during the time of the murders.  What motive could he have had??????  As Lizzie's real uncle--he was the brother of Lizzie's biological mother--he would have resented the neglectful treatment accorded Lizzie and her sister, and took matters into his own hands.  But is this motive strong enough?   I don't think so.

What of Lizzie's sister, Emma???????????  She was ten years older than Lizzie, an established spinster at 42, and was out of town at the time of the murders.  But was that coincidence, or planned????????   The sisters had an almost symbiotic relationship, and I can easily see this having been planned out between them, with Lizzie, the angrier of the two, having the nerve to pull it off.  No one knows for certain, but I assert Emma was complicit in the crime, that she went out of town to allow them to take place on a time decided between the siblings.  She was never suspected of such.

Emma was the more conventional sister, though.  Once the dust settled, both moved to a house in the fancy part of town; the dwelling was called "Maplecroft."  In fact, Lizzie Borden changed her name to "Lizbeth Of Maplecroft."  The sisters lived there, till 1905, when, after a falling out about which little is known--though I suspect Lizzie wanted a wilder lifestyle, being ahead of her time!!!!!!!!--Emma packed up, moved away, eventually marrying.  When Lizzie died in 1926, aged 66, after a botched gall bladder surgery, the 76-year old Emma, on learning this nine days later, fell down a set of stairs and died.  Though apart, their symbiosis was still a component of their relationship.

As to the murders, well--

I accept Lizzie was fueled with anger.  Whether the sisters conspired, or coincidence just favored Lizzie, she walked into an upstairs room, where her stepmother was bent over , not seeing Lizzie from behind, giving her the chance to go at stepmom with the ax!!!!!!!!!  This was at nine-thirty in the morning.

Around ten thirty, Mr. Borden came home, for his midday meal.  Before such, he stretched out on the living room couch, which is where he was killed.  Though the first blow, which took out most of one of his eyeballs, may have given him an opportunity to see his killer, whether he understood what was happening, or not, cannot be proven, because dead men tell no tales.  Unless remains are exhumed.

Even though Lizzie hated her father, she seemed to hate her stepmother more.  Unlike what the famous folk rhyme says, she gave the mother more whacks than the father--about eleven, to the father's ten.  Hardly the forty (mother) and forty-one (father) of the folk rhyme.

I poked at walls, and tried to obtain some blood samples from outside.  I  was also fascinated that the museum has the dress worn by Elizabeth Montgomery in the 1975 TV movie, "The Legend Of Lizzie Borden."  I perused it lovingly, wanting to take it home.

You simply have to go, girls!!!!!!!!!!  And you need to spend a night in that house to see if you have a paranormal experience.  Darlings, my entire life is a paranormal experience, so it would not surprise me one bit.  But this little bed and breakfast routine is not cheap--the going rate is $250 a night!  That's right; you heard me!  Though, I guess it lets Lizzie have the last laugh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Lizzie and Lucy.  Two of the most beloved crazy bitches.  Too bad a room does not have continuous showings of the 1964 movie, "Strait-Jacket!!!!!!!!!!!"  That would be a hoot!!!!!!!!!!!

And, of course, Lizzie inspired it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This Is Why We Must Look Our Best At All Times, Girls!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                               It is no secret I watch "Cold Case" to get beauty tips from Kathryn Morris as Lilly Rush, as I do for the deeply emotional issues this series, in its day, often dared to explore.

                                But the ultimate was the episode "Stalker," where a deranged young man walked into the office, and shot.  Lily was hit!!!!!!!!!!!!!  But, girls, I am telling you, even when she was bleeding out, even when she was on the hospital operating table, slowly going under, and calling out to her recently deceased mother, (wonderfully played by Meredith Baxter!!!!!!!!!!)  her hair and make-up were perfect!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                  This is what we all have to aspire to, girls!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Hopefully, we will escape being shot, or on an operating table--that is my wish for you all, darlings!!!!!!!!!!--but it does not mean this is an excuse to look less than your best!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                    Let us all be inspired by Kathryn Morris, as Lilly Rush!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                    I plan to look my freshest, dears!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Don't Fly "The Unfriendly Skies!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

                                 I want to open this post, first, with an apology to my readers, for being off here so long.  I have been dealing with a lot of things--my father's approaching 102nd birthday, the allergy season, and most importantly, the oncoming death of a childhood friend.  When the inevitable happens--and I have every reason it will, sometime this year--I will write more about it.

                                 But it is time, now, for Bitch Of The Week, and, for the first time, I think I have a corporate winner.

                                 The winner of the Raving Queen Bitch Of The Week Award is United Airlines!!!!!!!!!!!

                                  What used to be called "the friendly skies," when I was young, are, today, anything but.

                                      This is the airline that forcibly, to the point of serious injuries, drags unwanted passengers off planes, because they are not organized enough to realize when they have overbooked. 

                                       Even more, straight out of the cult classic, "Night Of The Lepus," wherein a Southwestern town is menaced by giant bunny rabbits, which are actually cute bunnies magnified, the airline allowed an actual giant rabbit to die on board!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                       "Night Of The Lepus" ended the careers of James Whitmore, Rory Calhoun, and Janet Leigh!!!!!!!!!!  Now, it will end the career of United Airlines!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                         Too bad the rabbit did not board with some cohorts, and attack United officials.  This airline needs not only a lock down, it needs a REAL "Night Of The Lepus!!!!!!!!!!!"

                                            I hope both the doctor and the owners of the giant rabbit file lawsuits against this bitch airline.  And then other airlines claim passengers are attacking them, too!  What garbage!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                            I hate flying, and this is ample reason for me not to do it.  Which doesn't mean I won't; there will come a time, perhaps, when it may be necessary, but I do not relish what is in store for me.

                                              Remember when National Airlines, in the day, said, "Come on, and fly me????????????????"

                                              I say to United Airlines, "Fuck you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Sunday, April 23, 2017

A Gothic Surprise!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                          For those of you less than satisfied with Michael Chabon's "Telegraph Avenue," let me say that Hair Kunzru's "White Tears" is the book the other should have been.
What starts out as a tale of obsessive record--and I mean vinyl, darlings!!!!!!!!--collection escalates into a near Noir mystery with two friends--Seth, and Carter Wallace--at the helm.  What follows, and where the reader ends up, is so striking and devastating it cannot be seen coming.  Along they way there are also meditations  on American racism, history, friendship, betrayal and the music business.

                                            And all neatly wrapped within only 271 pages.  I admired his last book, "Gods Without Men," so I was curious to see what would follow.  The results are even better than the previous book.  "White Tears," at this point, looks good to shape up as one of the Books Of The Year.  And this is only April, darlings!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                             It is way beyond "White Teeth," darlings!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

No One Plays Sickos, Like Rafael Sbarge!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                   Ever since I first saw the 'SVU' episode, "Wannabe," where Sbarge played wanker supreme Wayne Hankett, with Raymond J. Barry (who would play Lily's father on "Cold Case") as Wayne's sexually and physically abusive father, I knew Mr. Sbarge was an actor to reckon with.  I have seen him play other things, like an attorney, on the "L and O" franchise.  But when he plays perps, no one does a better job.

                                    Now, "Thrill Kill" on "Cold Case" stops just short of being a masterwork.  As soon as it showed three pre-teen boys murdered, and placed in an abandoned swimming pool, I knew this was based on the West Memphis Three.  Now, in a post I did awhile back, I mentioned that the title is designated to the three boys who were convicted.  It should have indicated the victims, who seem to have been forgotten in all this.

                                    And "West Memphis" referred to Arkansas, not Tennessee. 

                                    When I saw Melissa Leo was playing one of her great White Trash roles as a mother of a victim, I thought, for a moment, she would be responsible.  But it turns out to be Sbarge, as Henry Aymes, the stand in for who I always thought was the real killer--father Terry Hobbs!  If Hobbs is dead--good!  If he is still walking around out there, he will eventually be hunted and dragged down, like the skunk he is!  You better believe it, darlings!  I know how these things work.

                                       I wish Henry's phobias had been explored a little more.  Because, according to this story, the crime was triggered by an irrational fear of the dark he has had, since childhood.  There is a suggestion that someone--a parent???--locked him in the dark for intolerable stretches of time.  In the present, the boys are disobeying the father's orders to stop playing.  He finds them in the basement, and they pull the lights on him, leaving him in darkness.  When they come back on, Henry is so enraged he kills his son, then the other boys, to cover things up.

                                        Interesting the show went with the Terry Hobbs theory.  I am telling you, he is the one.  But I wish the show had explored more of Henry's past, to see why darkness would freak him out so, it could drive him to murder!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                           Of course, Henry will go to prison, and be attacked by his inmates for killing children.  But he may not even last long enough, for that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                             Wait till Melissa Leo get her hands on him!  You do not mess with her, girls!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This Episode Should Have Been Called "Scumbags!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

                               The "Cold Case" episode, "Revenge," started out like a retelling of the Adam Walsh case.  A sweet kid, Kyle Bream, is abducted from a department store.  His nightmare is just beginning, because everyone in this episode, save Kyle, and Lily and Company, turn out to be prime scum.

                                 The minute I saw Brent Sexton was playing Kyle's father, I was convinced he was to blame.  After his chilling performance as Jim Turner (also with a son named Kyle) in the recent 'SVU' episode "Great Expectations," I expected no less.  But Sexton plays a sympathetic role.  When he finds out that pedophile Rudy Tanner has Kyle, he hunts him down, and murders him in the back yard.  Get rid of some scum!  Good for you!  I would call this justifiable homicide!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                   Two families are ruined by Kyle's abduction.  His father kills Tanner, and it turns out that Kyle's own uncle, Ed Kripke, a no-good piece of filth, sold Kyle to pedophile trafficker Rudy Tanner, for some drug money.  Ed should have been gunned down too.

                                   Things are a mess at the Tanner household.  His wife, Sandra Riley, was the "star" of hubby's life, until Archie, their son, came along.  Then, Archie became the "star," and Sandra began absenting herself from home--she is culpable, here!!!!!!!!--because she knew Archie was being sexually abused by her husband, and did nothing about it.  By the time Kyle enters this damaged household, Archie, who, by now, at 13, confuses what he father does to him with love, has some awareness that Kyle was brought in, because he was aging out.

                                      So, Archie tells Kyle the truth about his parents, making him swim across the harbor, to the neighborhood where they live,  Poor Kyle tries, but, of course he can't sustain, so he drowns!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                       I am telling you, everyone is a scumbag.  Hopefully, Sandra will be charged with child endangerment, Eddie will be locked in a prison cell and torn apart by inmates, once they discover what he did, and Archie should do some time in a youth facility both for his crime, and to heal, so that, maybe--and it is a small-maybe--he has a chance at a future life.

                                        Everyone, save Kyle, deserved some kind of "Revenge."  Not a masterwork segment in the series, but it serves up a galaxy of scumbags!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                         Take the key, and lock them all up, darlings!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It Started With David O. Selznick!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                               Sexual harassment, darlings, has been around since the dawn of Time.  But it really took power mogul David O. Selznick to perfect the art of the casting couch seduction, and to conceptualize the idea that men sexually harass, for one reason, because they are not much to look at!!!!!!!!!!!

                                   Next to Bill O'Reilly, and Roger Ailes, Selznick was a catch!!!!!!!!!!!!  Imagine--chasing Joan Fontaine around his office, and sucking on Jennifer Jones' titties at a Hollywood party--and this after her winning the Oscar for "The Song Of Bernadette!!!!!!!!!!"

                                     If any of these trolls put a hand on me, I would slap them silly!  I am so glad O'Reilly and Ailes are getting their just desserts!!!!!!!!!  Maybe ugliness is a prime requirement at Right Wing Fox News!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I wouldn't be a bit surprised!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                      These men use their power to harass, because, with their looks, they can't get it any other way.  Oh, I am sure there are some smooth looking harassers out there, but the vast majority of them are just plug ugly!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                        Let these debased pigs make a wreckage of their lives. But, girls, do not let them make one of yours!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

"A 'Picnic' Spot Is Our Rendezvous!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

                                  No one is quite comfortable in their skin in the Transport Group's production of William Inge's "Picnic."  And that is just how it should be.

                                   William Inge may not have had the poetic lyricism of Tennessee Williams, or the ability to juxtapose politics and drama, like Arthur Miller, but he had the ability, like Carson McCullers, to see through to what was inside his characters, and "Picnic" is his best example thereof. As with 'Sheba' it is as much about what the actors convey in dialogue, as what they don't.

                                       Take Flo Owens, wonderfully played by Michele Pawk.  She lovingly hovers over her girls, Madge and Millie, wanting the best for them, even if, one of them, Madge, isn't sure what she wants.  Something clues us in to Flo wanting for Madge what she did not get for herself, as she sees Madge capable of making the same mistakes she did.  Madge questions the value of her beauty, which is all she seems to be admired for.  Those of us not having the looks to get us through in life--hear! hear!--may be struck by Inge's assertion that pretty people have problems, too.

                                        Not that it makes much difference to Madge's defiant, adolescent sister, Millie, played by Hannah Elless, who walks off with the show, whenever she is on stage.  I always gravitated to Millie, as I was so much like her, down to reading "The Ballad Of The Sad CafĂ©," and wanting to escape to New York--which I did, and which I know she will.   And Heather MacRae, so compelling as Lola in 'Sheba,' is lovable as neighbor Helen Potts, whose chance for a man has sailed, but is content with the pleasures she is given, simple though they be.  If Helen Potts seems the most lovable character, it is also because she is most comfortable in her skin.  Except when her ailing mother calls--a real "Eunice and Mama" scenario, if there ever was one!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                       It is when Hal Carter, brilliantly explored by David T. Patterson, arrives, that the play heats up, and things begin to darken.  Hal's physical charms are apparent, but Patterson digs deep and comes up with a tormented soul, with a traumatic past, that leaves him incapable of grabbing onto life's brass rings, even when they seem within reach.  What's more, Jack Cummings III explores, in Hal and Alan's (Rowan Vickers) relationship, homosexuality, or, at least the possibility of it, simmering beneath the surface.  Hey, why not; this is William Inge!!!!!!!!!!  It should be explored.
I have never seen so much touching between Hal and Alan than here.  It is a daring, but necessary move.

                                      Emily Skinner's Rosemary may at first seem the quintessential Midwestern spinster.  But, once she takes to drink, calling out Hal, and admitting to a less than virginal past, the role goes from caricature to character, with Skinner in command all the way.  Her begging Howard to marry her is still heartbreakingly touching, and John Cariani is the first Howard I have seen to play him with some sexuality, downplay the nerdieness, and even reveal a cruel streak, all belying his insecurity at change, let alone living with  Rosemary.

                                        "Picnic" was originally titled "Front Porch."  It is generally staged between the two front porches of the Owens' and Potts' households.  Here, it is staged against slabs of wooden boards and Fifties lawn chairs that I recall from my own childhood.  The lighting mutes the slabs, mirroring each moment's emotional mood.  It is an unconventional staging device, that works.

                                          I have always had a special relationship with "Picnic," and not just to Millie.  Growing up in Jersey, when I did, on each Saturday before Labor Day, the 1955 movie version of "Picnic" was shown as the late movie, on ABC.  Kim Novak, Susan Strasberg, William Holden--wow!!!!!!!!!!!!  For many, this is how we came to "Picnic; " for some, it may be the only one known.

                                           But while it is still running, I encourage a visit to the Transport Group's stage presentation, which explores this already known story deeper than the movie, limited by censorship of the time, could hardly suggest.
                          I just love this photo!!!!!!!!  Yes, the play is full of humorous, fun moments, which the actors make the most of.  But, thankfully, they, and the production, make the most of Inge's explorations of understanding the human condition, still essential to our time.

                           And, yes, I miss the McGuire Sisters, but this "Picnic" can stand on its own, without them!!!!!!!!!!!!

I Can't Wait To Write About Rayane Leland!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                 Ever since "Mommie Dearest" almost tanked her career, Diana Scarwid has scored points by playing bitches.  I guess that is what playing Christina Crawford did to her.  But, let me tell you, no one, today, plays a bitch, like Diana.  She has filled the void left by longtime pro, Louise Fletcher.

                                When I first saw Diana in the "Cold Case" episode, "Spiders," I knew I had found a Bitch Of The Week.  Her character, Rayanne Leland, is this week's winner of the Raving Queen Bitch Of The Week Award!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                 Not since Rose Ann D'Arcy, played by Shelley Winters, in "A Patch Of Blue," have I seen such a despicable, racist bitch.  Diana really camps it up, going for the Emmy gold!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                  Rayanne is All Right-Wing American, right down to the giant swastika and Confederate Flag, hanging on the basement wall, where she lets her son and his skinhead pals plot White Supremacist schemes, which she not only encourages, but masterminds.

                                  She even found out a hidden secret of one of her son's friends--that her has Jewish blood, in him.  Rayanne despises that, and him, so she manipulates the guy into murdering her son's girl friend, who won't conform to their way of thinking.  She says that, by doing this, his Jewish blood will be erased.  What a manipulative bitch, and what a dumb kid.

                                  Now, Spider, the son, is a White Supremacist, but he cared about the girl, so he turns on Mommy.  She calls him weak, with no balls; but how can he have any, when she has them all in the family??????????????????

                                   I could go on about Rayanne.  Many families have a version or two of her (sometimes a him) lurking in their closets.  I know I do--several!!!!!!!!!!!!  My advice to everyone--stay away from these Rayannes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                   Rayanne, and her like minded cronies, deserve nothing but our contempt!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Hey Social Worker, "Go Be A Soda Jerker, Which Means Go Be A Schmo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

                                  Many "Cold Case" fans speak highly of the episode, entitled "Fly Away."  I found it moving, but it was not one of my favorites.  But Don McManus' chilling performance as evil social worker Josh Freely, (a character type used in "The Woods," though the abuser was accomplice Jacob Leonard, partner to social worker, Lee) was one of the milestones of this segment, which also introduced us to issues Lily has with her past, and understandably.   Which is why her make-up and hair are so perfect; Lily is always trying to prove herself, because she feels she has to.  Believe me, I get it!!!!!!!!!!!

                                    Let's get back to "Fly Away."  This was the case of Rosie Miles, a down on her luck Mom, and her daughter, Toya.  Things start with both being tossed out a window.  Now, Toya dies, but get this, Rosie survives, for years, in a coma!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                    But this is "Cold Case," darlings, so years later, she comes to, and can barely remember anything.  She does not even know that Toya is dead.  The sad thing is what happened did not have to.

                                     There were people watching out for Toya in the neighborhood. One of these folk was a pizza boy, named Phil Williams.  He would scrape together as many leftovers as he could from where he worked, to give to Toya, so the child would get some nourishment.

                                      Which was a good thing.  But, because of a DUI with Toya in the back seat, years before, Rosie is turned over to social services, and assigned the nightmare social worker, Josh Freely. 

                                       This guy is clearly in the wrong profession.  Except many sexual predators choose these professions to find victims.  Josh starts on Toya, but Rosie catches him.  He calls her "trash," "a dumb bitch" and says he calls the shots!  Nice!  He threatens he will come knocking at Rosie's door, unexpectedly, and will have his way with Toya! 

                                          On the night of May 21, 2001, that knock comes.  Only, it is not Josh, but Philip, delivering leftovers!   But Rosie, thinking it is Josh, and to protect herself and Toya, says they are going to "fly away."  They are not tossed from the window--Rosie takes Toya and jumped, indicating death would be preferable to this scum abusing Toya.  Like I said, had Rosie known, it would never have happened.

                                            Rosie survives, gets it together, and is not charged.  Meanwhile, other clients of Josh Freely report what he has done to their daughters, and when Lily and Company get him, all he does is call his clients "trash," Welfare queens," and the kind of people society does not care about.

                                            Oh, really Josh?????????  If you were in front of me, I would punch you in the face!  Some of us do care about these people, who deserve a whole lot better than you, you sick thing!

                                            But cheer up!  Josh will sing an entirely different tune in prison!!!!!!!!  Oh, yes!  When those inmates find out what he did..........................

                                             As for Lily, she clawed her way up from the same type of world as Rosie.   She is hard on herself, resentful of her past, and of others who couldn't make it, as did she.
Which becomes apparent, when her mother Ellen (played by Meredith Baxter Birney) and sister Christina (played by Nicki Aycox) are later introduced in the show.

                                             Too bad scumbags can't always be nailed as perfectly as they are  on "Cold Case!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

A Real "Cold Case" Scum!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                               "Corporation T-Shirts," to borrow from the Beatles,  are not the only lowest human life form on the planet.  So, too, is the Arrogant Academic, which is just what Daniel Patterson was.

                                   The "Cold Case" episode, "Slipping," was no masterwork.  It was actually a "Gaslight" re-do, where Daniel and the housekeeper, Annette Hicks, who was enamored of him, tried to drive his wife, Nancy, insane.  And daughter Rachel, who was packed off to boarding school right after her mother died, and that was because she knew Dan's secret--the volume of poetry that he publishes, wining for him Poet Laureate, and a tenure track position at Powell University, was written by his wife, Nancy, not him.

                                  Daniel had an over inflated sense of his talent--and realized it, after he got his Ph.D.  Anyone can do the grunge work.  But to produce real genius--that takes talent.  And Nancy Patterson had it.

                                     Which is what Daniel could not stand, as he was too much of a class snob.  Because he had gone the academic route, and Nancy was just a "secretary" and a "state's ward," she could not be the talent he was supposed to have been.  Well, Dan, you scum, had you really paid attention in class, you may have learned that not all of our great writers were hallowed academics.  Like Tennessee Williams, for one.  Genius comes from the person; it cannot be taught.  Just like in the performing arts.

                                      So, Dan has a hissy fit, kills his wife, tries to make his stepdaughter think she inherited her mother's mental problems, when he was the one who had them.  And he used that cheap  thing, Annette,  who gets hauled in, too.  When Lily and Company nail him, decades later, wait till you see how self-righteous Ronny Cox plays Dan.  He still thinks he is the cat's meow!!!!!!!!!!!!!
When he is nothing but a losing prick!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                       Like I said, not a great episode, but a portrayal of a REAL scumbag!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                         Go read "Curious George" to the convicts, you jerk!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


A Nice, Intimate Experience!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                        Length has no premium, when it comes to the quality of fiction.  "A Month In The Country," for its brevity covers a lot of terrain--physical and emotional--in short form, speaking much for the author's sense of economy in both prose and structure.

                                         What seems like almost a series of character vignettes coming together is framed within the visit of Tom Birkin, who arrives, post war, in the English town of Oxygod, to work on restoring a mural in a local church.

                                            The writing and the flavor of it all seem more like Thomas Hardy, to whose work this book is often compared.

                                              Yes, the artistic musings are brilliant, but so are the character depictions--Alice Keach, Kathy Ellerbeck, James Moon--who stay with the reader most.  The novel is truly "British"--reserved, structured, ending right where it should, with  no lose ends.

                                                Such writing is rare today.  This gem is a reminder it once existed.

A Belated Happy Birthday, To Hayley Mills!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                    Yes, girls, another year has passed for Hayley Mills, and those of us who adore her.  To think Hayley is seventy-one now, so how does that make us who discovered her, back in the day, feel?????????????   And, speaking for myself, I don't nearly half so good as Hayley!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                     Nor did I have as iconic a career.

                                      Fortunately, Hayley's legacy is preserved on film, for countless generations to experience.

                                       An errand I had to run into the city for prevented me from posting, yesterday, so Happy Birthday, Hayley!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                        And let's have tea at The Pierre, next time you are in town.

                                        Who can forget this cheerful song??????  I still love it!!!!!!!!!!!!


Welcome A New Reader, Darlings!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                According to my Followers indicator, girls, I have a new reader.  The name seems to be say, so, first, "Hi, Jay; welcome to The Raving Queen!"  I hope you find interest and enjoyment on here, and maybe learn some things along the way.  As I tell all newbies, this blog goes great with coffee.  Especially in the morning!!!!!!!!!

                                And there is lots to come in the day ahead.  Sometimes there is not enough time in the day to write.  So, stay tuned.

                                 Again, Jay, welcome.  Let me ease you in with this blog's unofficial theme song!!!!!!!!!!


Monday, April 17, 2017

A Journey Into The Gothic!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                    I swear, I don't plan things this way, girls!!!!!!!!!!!  Imagine, reading "Carmilla" and "Lincoln In The Bardo" during Holy Week.  While Zadie Smith might have called Saunders' book a satire--and I can see the validity of her argument--I thought of it more as Gothic. Maybe it was the timing, and my Catholic upbringing.

                                    One thing is clear--this is the first truly great book of the year!  If it doesn't make any Ten Best lists, I will be surprised.  Some of you on here may recall I was not that impressed with Saunders' short story collection, "Tenth Of December."  So, I began this novel, with some trepidation.

                                    It is clear Saunders paints better on a larger canvass.  Though his unconventional approach may put off some. I found it stimulating, but let me also say, I was glad I had recently read Gore Vidal's "Lincoln," before doing so.  It enabled me to fill in gaps Saunders leaves, clarifying his book in a way impossible otherwise.

                                    If that sounds like a criticism of Saunders, it is not meant to be.  If the reader simply goes with what is on the printed page, they will be taken on a disturbing, Gothic journey.  And I must warn you, for those like myself, with a healthy fear of Hell, Saunders offers a prose depiction of it, at the half-way point, that is not for the squeamish.  Probably close to what Jacinta saw, at Fatima.

                                   This is Saunders' first novel, and it is a brave, audacious debut that pays off well.  I will be interested to see what he follows this up, with!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                    And, darlings, that Mary Todd was some piece of work!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Patti Page Got The Last Word In, Last Night, On "Feud!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

                                 I am afraid this series, which started out so strong, is slowly falling apart.  Because no real footage exists of what work Joan Crawford did in "Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte," so many liberties were taken.  Bette Davis as a producer?????????  Was that for real????????  I never heard that, before.  Nor is it anywhere on the film's credits.  Is it?????????????????

                                   Thank God for Patti' Page's classic rendering of the title song during scenes!!!!!!!!

                                   Casting is now scraping bottom of the barrel with the pale not even imitations found to portray Joseph Cotton, and Agnes Moorhead.  I am almost glad they did not feature Mary Astor!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                     And how about that faux set for Houmas House???????  It looked like a bad Tara knockoff, used by the most middle of Middle Class Georgians for a wedding!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Who are they kidding???????????????????

                                     But the real question is, how much control does Jessica have over this show??????  Because it seems to be All About Joan!!!!!!!!!!!!!  What about Bette in "The Nanny," "The Anniversary," and "The Whales Of August?????????"  Not even a hint of Joan in "Berserk," sporting her legs in a circus ringmaster outfit, and someone playing Judy Geeson playing her crazy daughter, Angela?  Angela, by the way, shows what being sent to private school can do to a girl!!!!!!!!!!  Especially if your mother is Joan Crawford!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                     And too much sexual contretemps between Bette and Aldrich!!!!!!!!  OK, it might have happened, but do we have to watch it?  Imagine, what is imagined, as it is watched!!!!!!!!!  My skin crawls, right now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                      Also, who cares about B.D. marrying some loser, named Jeremy, at sixteen?????????

                                     The show is losing ground.  There are things that should be covered, but will they?????????  Next week is the last episode, so all will be known soon.

                                      But this I can promise you!!!!  It will feature Joan and "Trog!!!!!!!!!!!!"

                                      I cannot WAIT to see that love match, darlings!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Here Is Jessie Mueller's Next Project!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Now, How About Celia????????????????

                                        Remember girls, you hear it first, here!

                                        Four years ago, back in 2013, "Great Performances," on WNET broadcast a "Live From Lincoln Center" rendering of Rodgers And Hammerstein's "Carousel."  It starred Kelli O'Hara and Nathan Gunn as lovers Julie Jordan and Billy Bigelow, Jason Danieley as the hottest and best voiced Mr. Snow I have ever heard, and the remarkable Jessie Mueller as the Carrie of Carries, since Audra McDonald did the role, back in 1994.

                                         I saw Audra's production live, three times.  I watched the 2013 one on tape.  Each time, I lost it!  The tears just flow from me, with "Carousel," the most gorgeous and darkest of Rodgers And Hammerstein's musicals.  I even did my Master's Thesis on the show.

                                          Well, girls, hold onto your hats, and get out your ticket money, because, on March 23, 2018, "Carousel" will be coming back to Broadway, for the first time in 24 years!  A theater is yet to be announced, but wouldn't it be great, having it at the Beaumont again???????????

                                           This time, Jessie will be taking the lead role of Julie Jordan!  Oh, my God; I cannot wait to hear her on "If I Loved You," "What's The Use Of Wondrin'?," and, of course, "You'll Never Walk Alone!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"  I get chills, just thinking about it.

                                               Her Billy Bigelow is going to be Josh Henry, fresh from "Hamilton."  So, "Carousel" is going color blind, again!  Will it cause as much controversy this time, as Audra McDonald, back in '94???????????  Not only she, but then leading man Michael Hayden, was criticized for not being John Raitt, (!!!!!!!!!!) though I thought what he brought to the role was extraordinary.  Henry will have a lot to live up to.

                                                  Renee Fleming is doing Nettie Fowler.  I cannot wait to hear her on "June Is Bustin' Out All Over!"

                                                   Now, the roles of Carrie and Mr. Snow have not been cast!  So, I am calling on everyone to urge the casting of Celia Keenan-Bolger as Carrie!!!!!!!!!!!  Not only could she  do it, beautifully, but, my God, Jessie and Celia in the SAME production!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Tickets will be scalped for months!!!!!!!!!!!!  A dream come true!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                                   Justin Peck is the choreographer.  I am curious to see how he re-imagines one of the great musical theater dance pieces of all time, the "Carousel Ballet."

                                                     Jessie is set, which is good enough for me!  But, now let's get Celia on board!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                                      I am having paroxysms, right now, darlings!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!